King’s Lynn Town Hall
Perfect for all events from weddings to conferences and concerts, this range of buildings on the Saturday Market Place more than pleases the eye – it delights.
It also has tales to tell, from the criminals sent to the gallows under stern bewigged Mayors to the glorious Georgian romps and banquets in the Assembly Rooms where rich merchants hoped to marry off their daughters at the monthly balls to the old country gentry families – thereby gaining a pedigree, if not a title.
These rich heiresses could bring thousands of pounds into a marriage, so competition for their hand was often ruthless. Around the walls are portraits of famous local figures and royal subjects including King Charles I, Sir Robert Walpole, Lord George Bentinck, King George III, and Admiral Lord Nelson – and in a small room at the back you’ll find George Vancouver, Fanny Burney and Benjamin Keene.
The Town Hall is made up of a sequence of buildings of all different styles and ages, but they form a harmonious whole. At the heart lies the Guildhall of the Holy Trinity, built in 1422. The front is distinctive flint and stone in a chequer pattern with light stone and dark flint in alternate squares. Low ground floor windows light the undercroft, which is now the exhibition “Stories of Lynn,” opened in 2016 to showcase the town treasures.
Above is a glorious large window which uniquely has dozens of messages etched into the glass panes by glaziers and window cleaners over the last few centuries. One rather telling one reads “Who got the girl with child poor Billy Turner the glazier?”
Behind this window is the Stone Hall, which must originally have been reached by external stairs, because in 1624 an ornate staircase and porch was added in a similar chequer pattern. The large impressive door and classical Doric columns make for a very grand entrance to a fantastic building.
Finally, in Queen Street the ‘real’ Town Hall was added in 1895, and this Victorian extension perfectly reflects the rest in its use of flint and stone chequer work. The addition was prompted by local government legislation which allowed the public to attend council meetings for the first time – so a purpose-built council chamber was needed. Still in constant use, the Town Hall has reflected the changing times of King’s Lynn and is still a much-loved building at the heart of civic and town life.